The Benefits of Hiking and Camping Alone

June 10, 2013 • Camps and Hikes, Latest, Madness • Views: 744

Solitary tree

Solitary tree

The day is filled with noises. The alarm goes off, the dog barks, the crazy  neighbor starts his rant on minorities. Maybe there is breakfast and music or some podcast playing in the background. While you were sleeping you got six texts and ten more likes on your Instagram page. There’s your to-do list, there’s morning sex, there’s chatter chatter chatter. The day is filled with noises.

You’re at work with 120 people and maybe thousands more if you work where I work. With them it’s not the noise they make, it’s the noise they create in your head. Did they look at me weird? Was I rude? Were they rude? Does she like me? Oh I hope she doesn’t like me. He’s better than me at everything. Why doesn’t he like me? On and on and on. 98% do this to me. The 2% who don’t I want to marry.

Think of a hike you take with friends. Chatter, chatter, chatter. Wow! Look at that! Take my picture? Take my picture. Take another picture. Should I take a picture of that? We need to find someone to take a picture of all of us. The day is filled with noises.

Now try going alone. I mean alone alone. Just you. Not a local hike either. Go someplace your phone doesn’t get service. Don’t bring it with you. Don’t bring a camera at all. Don’t bring your music. Leave the pot at home. Be a free climber. No rope. It’s a scary thing I can tell you that much. You’ll meet an old friend. She’ll fill your brain with heartbreaks and adventures you’d long forgotten. You might cry. You might get bored. But you’ll be free. The trees will sway that much more. You’ll realize that the forest or the desert or wherever the hell you are is noisy enough as is. The birds chatter. The wind rakes leaves across your path. Your foot break a twig and a deer goes running.

I can talk a big game during the day. I can be anywhere alone under the sun and be happy and content. I could sleep all day in a field with a filthy fucking smile on my face as I get sunburned. There’s a moment when it all ends though. The sun starts to drop and I can count the hours before it’ll be dark and cold and possibly wet. A different part of my brain wakes up then. It begins in my chest and expands with every breath. As the shadows creep in I spot animals and monsters behind every tree and as my anxiety takes over each of those monsters is replaced by some greater fear I have in my everyday life. What am I doing with myself? How come nobody loves me? Why am I always afraid? This isn’t chatter. This is an attack. There’s nothing to save me now. I don’t have a friend to talk me down. I don’t have music to calm me. There’s nothing at all but that pure and primitive instinct to survive. I might cry then. I might laugh too. It’s usually one or the other. Either way it feels good. It’s a tough place to reach with a safety net below you. But sometimes in life you need to climb without a rope.

© 2013 Christopher Dart

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